Notes from the Train by Alice Hamlet | September 2018
“The Midtown Direct to Dover has been suspended until further notice due to a disabled train in the tunnel.”
Some of the most dreaded words in a commuter’s lexicon. Stranded at Penn Station for an indefinite period of time, the crowd gathered around the NJTransit monitor slowly disbursed to find alternate modes of travel or simply gave up on reaching their destinations altogether. Luckily, one can take the PATH at 33rd Street to Hoboken, and at Hoboken one can take the Gladstone train—which is exactly what I did this morning.
Surviving erratic commuter service may at times seem like the work of super heroes, but you may be unaware that we have an actual super hero amongst our staff at Wharton–AmeriCorps member, Danielle Lefebvre. Hailing from Leominster, Massachusetts, Danielle recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Maine at Farmington, where she studied Visual and Performing Arts with a concentration in music exploring experimental composition and performance. During her last semester of college, she applied to serve in AmeriCorps, a voluntary civil society program engaging more than 75,000 Americans in intensive public service each year supported by the U.S. federal government, foundations, corporations, and other donors with a goal of “helping others and meeting critical needs in the community.”
Says Danielle, “I was drawn to AmeriCorps as a national network of service programs designed to improve lives and foster civic engagement. Ultimately, I chose to serve after my first-hand experience of the kindness showered on my family and myself from our community as I battled cancer in 2014. I wanted to pay forward the same kindness I received by serving others. After applying to join AmeriCrops, I discovered that the Paterson Music Project was seeking an AmeriCorps member and shortly after I had an interview with Shanna (Shanna Lin, PMP Director of Education). Within a few weeks I arrived in Paterson, ready to serve.”
Danielle has been serving PMP since January 2018, first working as a liaison for P.S. 15 transporting PMP’s new band students across town to the band site at Norman S. Weir, followed by accompanying middle school students from the Community Charter School of Paterson to Norman S. Weir. Danielle prepared folders and music for the Saturday orchestra and choir rehearsals, as well as largely managing PMP’s social media accounts to help the world see the success of PMP’s students. Seriously, you should check out their newly minted Instagram page: search IG @patersonmusicproject.
But it’s not just PMP that has benefitted from Danielle’s service in AmeriCorps. She has also served at the Paterson Habitat for Humanity, worked with a high school internship program, and co-managed the construction of Paterson’s future Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park. The park, across from the AME Baptist Church, is the location of one of Dr. King’s final public speeches—a message about economic opportunity and economic parity—eight days prior to his death.
So what’s in her future, you may wonder? “I plan to continue in Paterson as I join the PMP team as the String Site Coordinator once my service comes to a close; I am grateful for the opportunity to continue doing such important work.”
And we’re very lucky to have her.
When not commuting, Alice Hamlet is the Director of Marketing at the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts and is also on the faculty of the Performing Arts School, teaching cello and music theory.